Ursuline Celebrates Shared Heritage at 125th Anniversary Gala

A spirit of excitement, success, and gratitude filled the DuPont Country Club Saturday night when more than 300 supporters of Ursuline Academy gathered to celebrate the school’s 125th anniversary.

The guest list at the November 9th Anniversary Gala included alumnae, staff and parents, Ursuline sisters, past and current board members, faculty and friends of the Ursuline Community.  The evening was an occasion to reflect on the school’s special heritage and shared experiences across generations, but also an opportunity to look forward to a promising future.

Like many, Abby Rodgers Layton (UA ’94) spoke glowingly of her deep ties to the Ursuline community and the close friends that remain her inner circle to this day.

“When you go to Ursuline you end up with lifelong friends and a lifelong community,” said Layton.  “So here at this party, I see people of different generations that I’ve never met before but I’m connected with because of the Ursuline traditions and our shared heritage.”

Stephanie DiCerbo Baffone (UA ’85) said it’s humbling to be a part of the Ursuline community. “It’s such a rich legacy, one that has sustained itself for 125 years. As a student here, I always had an understanding then that Ursuline was a special place. But I didn’t I understood the gravity of what that experience would mean to me until the passage of time.”

With generations of guests a captive audience for all things Ursuline, the school set up a small bookstore selling UA and Raider gear, water bottles, and other tchotchkes. And the school took a step back in time with a history display complete with yearbooks, photos dating back to 1893, and a wonderful display of Ursuline uniforms from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, which will be featured in the school’s Winter 2019 Uniform Exhibit.

Always an athletic powerhouse, the Ursuline sports memorabilia was a popular feature at the cocktail and dinner reception. Alisa Walters, class of 1977, donated her old basketball uniform from 1973 to the exhibit. A striking difference from sports togs of today, the bright red smock dress and white collared shirt (with matching white bloomers) was worn by Ursuline basketball players for most of the decade.

Ursuline inspired graduates like Penny Tsaganos Saridakis (UA ’85 and Board Member) to lead and to serve. She says the importance of that ethos is even more important today.

“For me, reconnecting with the Ursuline community feels like coming home. Not only were we challenged to be strong, independent young women, but we were expected to consistently treat others with dignity, love and respect. I have carried that expectation of myself throughout my life, and I see the increasing importance of it in today’s challenging world,” said Saridakis.

Ursuline Board of Trustees Chair Maritza Poza-Grise was reflective about what the school has meant to her family. Her daughter graduated from Ursuline in 2012. “Ursuline has for 125 years found a way to take young women and give them a space to grow into their own and to have confidence that’s just amazing. To help them to see the responsibility they have but also to lean into it. The school really gives them the courage to succeed.”

Raffle items, class baskets, silent auction items, and generous sponsors helped raise over $60,000 for Ursuline’s Tuition Assistance Program. 

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About the Contributor

Christy Fleming

Christy Fleming

The managing editor of TownSquareDelaware.com, Christy Fleming also supports a variety of non-profit initiatives in Delaware. Her background includes positions in public relations, advertising and journalism.